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Handicapping The 2011 Home Run Derby

2011 home run derby contestants and participants

The 2011 Home Run Derby has a couple familiar faces this season, including two previous champions as “team captains.” 2010 winner David Ortiz will captain the American League, and 2009 winner Prince Fielder will head up the National League team. Of the eight 2011 participants, only four have previously appeared in the Derby before – Matt Holliday and Adrian Gonzalez are the other two.

Real quick side note: Ortiz has been in the contest four times before 2011 – not surprising. But can you believe Matt Holliday has been in the Home Run Derby twice before? I was surprised by that. That means after the derby this year that he will have been in as many derby’s as Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, and Albert Pujols. No diss to Holliday, but that seems like a lot for the guy when compared to those three home run titans.

This year, Papi and Prince could pick players for their team without regard for whether or not the players are All-Stars. Both AL and NL homer totals will be added up to determine a winning team, captain, and charity. But don’t worry – there will still be an individual winner. Otherwise, the scoring format of the tournament will be the same.

Joey Bats HR Derby 2011 favoriteThe returning champs are well favored, but Blue Jays slugger Joey Bats is at the top of the list of favorites. Bautista has two home runs in 34 career ABs at Chase Field – but those dingers all came pre-2009 when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, so who knows what to really expect from him? Ortiz has only batted 7 times in Chase Field, and has never gone yard. Prince has 4 home runs in 66 plate appearances at the Chase.

Among the other participants, Adrian Gonzalez played in Chase Field for years before getting dealt to Boston, and he hit very well there – going yard 13 times in 169 ABs there.  Matt Kemp has hit 5 bombs in 124, Holliday only hit 4 in 167, Rickie Weeks has hit 2 in 59… and Robinson Cano has gone 0 for 13 in Arizona.

2011 Home Run Derby Odds

Current Oddsmaker.com odds for Monday night’s Home Run Derby, sorted from the favorite to the longshot:

    Oddsmaker.com Logo 

  • Jose Bautista: 5 – 2
  • David Ortiz: 3 – 1
  • Prince Fielder: 3 – 1
  • Robinson Cano: 5 – 1
  • Adrian Gonzalez: 6 – 1
  • Matt Holliday: 6 – 1
  • Matt Kemp: 8 – 1
  • Rickie Weeks: 12 – 1

So, after all of that, who’s gonna win this thing? Find out AFTER the jump… 

Adrian Gonzalez home run derby champ 2011Who we like in 2011: Adrian Gonzalez.

Why? The shortest porch is in left field (330 feet), but that’s only four feet shorter than right field. The center field distance of 407 feet also seem to favor right-handed hitters, which is probably a big reason why Vegas loves Joey Bats the most. We like him to compete – but win? Nah.

With his career performance at Chase Field, his tendency to avoid the gaps when he hit home runs, and his status as a non-first timer in the derby, A-Gonz looks like a great bet to take the title in 2011. Check out his 2011 home run landing spots below, plus get some more insight from us on who his top competition will be after the pic!

Adrian Gonzalez home run landing spots

Based on their 2011 home run landing spots, look for Bautista, Ortiz, Cano and Holliday to be Gonzalez’s top contenders. Weeks also fits a similar home run profile, but I just can’t imagine him competing in this thing (seriously, say this out loud to yourself – “Rickie Weeks, Home Run Derby Champion” – can’t do it without laughing, can you? Me either).

Left center and right center are actually the deepest parts of Chase Field (413), and this seems to work at a disadvantage for Fielder and Kemp. They simply have too great of a frequency of hitting their homers in the gaps.

So, what do you think? Who’s going to win the 2011 HR Derby? Let us know in the comments below!

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